Friday, July 24, 2009

Our National Park Sites: Places that Inspire Us

Have you ever considered what our National Parks have to offer? What do they signify and preserve for us as citizens of the United States? Of course, one might think of the biological diversity of Everglades or the historic significance of the Statue of Liberty or the majestic wonder of Yosemite Valley. These places, set aside for future generations, give the citizens of the United States a chance to explore our heritage, wilderness, and the places that make our country great.

You could say that our national parks give people a chance to learn about nature, but they can also inspire us to be creative and artistic. Who doesn’t take a camera with them to places like Mesa Verde, Acadia, and Mount Rushmore? Each of us can explore our artistic side by writing a contemplative poem after a visit to a national park or monument. Have you ever been inspired by our national park sites?

As Homestead National Monument of America has its first Artist in Residence Program this year I found it interesting to find parks that have established programs and the creativity these artists bring to the national parks.

Rocky Mountain National Park will host six artists this summer. Sharon Bass and Nick Holmes are two of them. Bass paints her own fabrics, stamping, and reassembling commercial fabrics to reflect the natural world. She hopes to translate the photographs she takes into a print, collage or a fiber-based quilt. Bass is currently the exhibit curator for the Kansas State Quilters. Holmes is continuing his study of Isabella Bird, a sickly woman from Scotland that traveled to the Rocky Mountains in 1873 covering 800 miles and wrote her most famous book, A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains. She traveled to America because she heard the air was excellent for the infirmed.

Holmes and Bird grew up in adjacent villages in Scotland. He is planning to photograph many of the same images as Bird. These will be used for educational and archival purposes at the park. Another artist which participated in the program is Chella Gonsalves, a painter currently living in California. She was an Artist in Residence in 2002 at Yosemite National Park and recently won a cash award with her painting Cascading at the Yosemite Renaissance XXIII.

Currently there is an Artist in Residence program at twenty nine national parks. Homestead National Monument of America recently announced the first year of their Artist-in-Residence Program. Homestead welcomes artists to share their inspiration and talent with visitors, to live and work at the monument, and to interpret the park's natural and cultural resources through their unique creative vision. For more information on how to apply for the Artist-in-Residence program at Homestead see below.

It will be exciting to see the creativity the artists bring to Homestead National Monument of America and how this translates into work of art. To view a listing of all national park sites with Artist-in-Residence programs, visit

Residencies open to: Two-dimensional visual artists, photographers, sculptors, performers, writers, video/filmmakers, composers.

Number & length of residencies: Depending on type and number of applicants, residences can range in length from 2 weeks to three months.

Contact: Call Artist-in-Residence Coordinator, 402-223-3514 or email Allison La Duke at or write: Artist-in-Residence Program, Homestead National Monument of America, 8523 West State Hwy 4, Beatrice, NE 68310 for information on next year's artist in residence opportunity.


Anonymous said...

This article is very informative and well done.

Homestead Congress said...

Homestead National Monument of America`s first Artist-in-Residence Penny Musco presented a public program entitled "Steal Away: The Story of a Kansas Homesteader and an Exoduster" at the Monument`s Education Center on Sunday, September 20 at 2 p.m.

Her program explored the hardships pioneers faced in homesteading and chronicled the accounts of African-American homesteaders through an original dramatic monologue.

Musco, who currently resides in New Jersey, is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in travel, women`s and Christian publications. She received her B.A. in Theatre from the University of Iowa and will be working and residing at Homestead National Monument for three weeks in September.

"We are excited to welcome Penny Musco to Homestead National Monument of America as our first Artist-in-Residence and know that her artistic talents will be inspiring and well-received by our visitors," said Superintendent Mark Engler.